Customize your Windows right-click menu

Whether saving Web images or scanning files for viruses, the right-click has become an essential action for most PC users. However, tweaking that right-click menu in Windows Explorer has never been an easy task...until FileMenu Tools came along.

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Who doesn't love to right-click, especially when browsing the Web? Whether saving images we like to our local drives, copying HTML links to send to friends, or scanning downloaded files for viruses, the right-click has become an essential part of most users' computing lives.

Yet how many times have you right-clicked on a file in Windows and then painfully scoured a long list to find the only option you need; sometimes it's the only one you ever use. Wouldn't life be much simpler to have only the items you want in your right-click menu? Well, for Windows Explorer, it's mostly possible, and the free utility FileMenu Tools makes it rather simple.

The problem with right-click menus (or "context menus," for all you semantic sticklers) is that there's no one place to edit them, even for something as integral as Windows Explorer. Your "Send To" shortcuts are generally editable in your "Documents and Settings" directory, e.g. "C:\Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\SendTo," but menu items for applications like WinRAR or your favorite FTP program are likely only accessible via your Windows Registry. Editing the Registry can be a hassle--and sometimes downright dangerous--for casual PC users.

FileMenu Tools changes that. Not only can you remove almost all of the right-click menu items that you never use, but the program also offers more than 20 valuable context-menu items that you can choose to include, as well as the ability to create your own. Find and replace for multiple documents and batch-file renaming are only a few of the very cool features that FileMenu Tools can add to your right-click menu. In fact, those new features are worth an article of their own, so for today, I'll only focus on paring down the Windows Explorer context menu to the items that I want to include.

FileMenu Tools context-menu options

The FileMenu Tools context-menu options include very cool features.

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When you first start FileMenu Tools, your standard Windows context menu will grow rather than shrink. That's because FileMenu Tools adds all of its optional items such as "Shred Files," "Change Time," and "Copy Content" to your right-click menu, along with a few new dividers.

Have no fear. The first tab of the main FileMenu Tools interface, called Commands of FileMenu Tools, displays all of those new context-menu options with check boxes next to each. To get rid of them all, simply unselect the check boxes, and then hit the green check mark in the upper-left corner to apply your changes. As I mentioned, there are some very cool features in those commands, but that's a subject for another day.

Next, take a look at the "Send To... " menu tab of FileMenu Tools. These are the commands that are also stored in your Documents and Settings directory. Again, simply uncheck the options that you don't want in your right-click menu, then click the green check mark to apply those changes. If you change your mind before applying, the red X will cancel all your changes.

Adding items to the Send To menu

Adding your own item to the Send To... menu is a snap

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It's also fairly easy to add a new program or location to the "Send To..." submenu. In my example, I've added Mozilla Firefox, because I often browse directories as well as open files with it. To add it to my "Send To..." items, I used Edit -> Add Command, selected the "New Command" that was created, and then hit Edit -> Properties to enter in the name (Mozilla Firefox) and the target (C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox2\firefox.exe). Voila. Now I can send any directory, folder, or file that I want to my default browser.

Commands of other applications tab

The Commands of other applications tab is where you can trim the most.

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The third tab of the main FileMenu Tools interface is likely the most useful. This area lets you remove (or add) commands from applications on your PC, such as compression programs, FTP software, and other utilities. Most programs, such as the aforementioned WinRAR, are good about making it easy to customize context-menu items from their own interface. However, others aren't so nice, and if you've got a lot you want to disable at once, FileMenu Tools makes it much easier than searching around through the "Advanced Options" of individual applications.

The Commands of other applications tab is divided into a variety of areas that you likely use with Windows Explorer, such as "All file types," "Drives," and "Directories." The most commonly used context menu is for "All file types," so let's take a look at that one. In my example, I had 12 different commands for various applications or Windows actions in my default right-click menu, but I really only use two--VirusScan (currently McAfee) and WinRAR. So I unselect the check boxes for the rest, click the green apply check mark, and my list is quickly truncated, as you can see from the image below.

Before and after FileMenu Tools

Take a look at my context menus before and after FileMenu Tools.

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Now, as far as I can tell, FileMenu Tools can't get rid of all of the default Windows right-click menu items, such as Copy, Rename, or the never-used (in my case) Create Shortcut. To remove some of those options, you will need to roll up your sleeves and get down and dirty in the Windows Registry. Also, reordering right-click menu elements is extremely limited; it's easy to change the order of FileMenu tools commands or those you create your own, but many existing Windows commands can't be reordered. For removing unnecessary third-party applications and customizing, however, FileMenu Tools provides a simple, easy, and free way to clear away some of the clutter.

As I mentioned earlier, I'll take a look soon at all of the functionality you can add to Windows Explorer with FileMenu Tools. Tell me what you think of the app or ask any questions you have about it in the comments.

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